The U.S. Navy transferred USS Arctic, a fast
combat support ship, to the operational control of Military Sealift Command. Arctic went from a
Sailor-crewed combatant ship to a civilian-crewed, noncombatant ship during a ceremony held June 14 in Earle, N.J.
The ship, now known as USNS Arctic to designate her new status as part of the Navy's Military Sealift Command, will join more than 30
other civilian-crewed MSC ships that
provide at-sea logistic support to the Navy fleet.
"Today marks a change of operators for USS Arctic, but not a change of mission. Military Sealift Command combat logistics ships continue to
allow the U.S. Navy to arrive on station and remain as long as needed," said Rear Adm. David L. Brewer III, USN, Commander, Military Sealift Command, speaking at the ceremony, which
included Read Adm. Lindell G. Rutherford, USN, Commander, Carrier Group Four.
Arctic is the second fast combat support ship to transfer from USS
to USNS status. Supply was the first to make the change last July. This
class of ship provides fuel, ammunition
and food to ships underway.
Arctic, like all ships in its class, is 754 feet long and has a beam
of 107 feet. With a top speed of 25 knots, she is ideal for fast
resupply at sea.
Two more ships, USS Rainier and USS Bridge, are scheduled to be
reassigned to MSC's control in the next two years. When they are, the
Navy will realize an estimated annual
savings of $75 million in operating costs.
Arctic, which as a Navy ship was crewed by a complement of 544
sailors, will now have a civilian crew of 176 mariners. By cutting the
crew in half, operating costs are lowered
dramatically. Those mariners will be accompanied by a small military
department of 28 Sailors for communication support and supply
coordination. An additional 31 Sailors will be
aboard to support helicopter operations.
Crewing the ship with civilian mariners allows more uniformed
sailors to be reassigned to critical billets aboard combatant ships in
the Navy's fleet doing the war-fighting jobs they
joined the Navy to perform. Civilian mariners aboard Arctic are able to
spend more days at sea as they are not limited by deployment cycle
policies that pertain to their uniformed
counterparts. Therefore, Arctic, like her sister ships, will be able to
spend more days at sea each year, increasing the ship's service to the
The ceremony to transfer Arctic included a formal decommissioning as
a USS ship
and naming as a USNS ship. Both outgoing commanding officer
of USS Arctic, Capt. Garry R.
White, USN, and incoming civilian master of USNS Arctic, Capt. Ed
Nanartowich, participated in the ceremony.
The ceremony has broader significance than Arctic's transfer to MSC.
The change is part of MSC's acquisition of the entire Navy Combat
Logistics Force. MSC already operates the
Navy's oilers, ammunition ships and combat